Kali Linux explained: A pentester’s toolkit

Why it's the most popular penetration testing Linux distro.

Kali Linux logo / gears / binary data
Kali Linux / nevarpp / Getty Images

Kali Linux definition

Kali Linux is the world's most popular offensive-security-optimized Linux distro. Maintained and managed by the fine folks at Offensive Security, Kali was born in 2006 as BackTrack Linux, but after a major refactoring in 2013 got the name Kali. What does the name mean? Well, we'll get to that.

Based on Debian Testing, Kali includes more than 300 security tools, including the big ones like Metasploit, Nmap, and Aircrack-ng, but also a wide variety of more obscure and specialist tools.

Kali is free to download and use but is intended as a specialized Linux distro optimized for penetration testing and not as a day-to-day operating system for checking your email or web browsing or sharing cat gifs on the Book of Faces.

Getting started with Kali

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